After TSF Demo Day: Where They Were, Where They Are Now - 1

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After TSF Demo Day: Where They Were, Where They Are Now - 1
Gone are the days when hundreds of people crowd in a room for Demo Day, when loud money-themed music welcomes a presenting startup founder to the stage, and when pressure mounts for investors to write hundreds of thousand dollar checks on the spot.

Times have changed, said The Startup Factory partner Chris Heivly in opening remarks at last night's showcase of four young companies.

"We needed to take our own advice and medicine," said Heivly, before introducing The Startup Factory's fifth class. "We tell these guys getting an investment is building a long-term relationship. (...) (Now there's) less pressure for Pitch Day to be a magical fundraising moment.

That's not to say The Startup Factory hasn't had its successes. Of 22 companies to complete the program (prior to class five), 19 are still in existence and 14 have raised $4.6 million from outside investors. That's not counting the $2.24 million invested by TSF.

And dozens of investors were in the modest crowd of 100 that gathered to hear the pitches of Hostel Rocket, Knomad, CareLuLu and Curagami. The most high-profile of which was Silicon Valley venture capitalist Dave McClure, who admitted later via Twitter that he liked all the companies, but CareLuLu was his favorite.

The companies have come a long way since they joined the program in February and were interviewed by ExitEvent. Below, we remind you of their stories, highlight their progress and detail their plans for the future. Stay tuned for video footage of their pitches.

After TSF Demo Day: Where They Were, Where They Are Now - 2
Hostel Rocket

The back story
The husband and wife-led team met in Las Vegas and found common ground through their passion for traveling and bunking in hostels. Michelle and Guy McBryde previously owned a hostel in Yosemite, California before moving to Durham.

The pre-TSF plan
Their goal was to fill the gap in the hostel online booking market with their brain child, Hostel Rocket. They hoped the site would be the go-to site for travelers, and have the most hostel inventory. The couple, along with co-founder Don Mullen (pictured left) planned to make money by selling hostel management software to operators and charging online booking fees. When they joined the Startup Factory, ExitEvent told their full story here.

How TSF helped
Over the past three months, they created strong relationships with many online travel agencies and entered into contracts that ensure they'll be a premiere site for hostel bookings. One of those is an online booking site that controls 45% of the market worldwide. Hostel Rocket also launched a Space Race game and contest with high-profile sponsors like GoPro, helping to build up its media influence to over 124,000 users across numerous social media platforms.

What's next
Hostel Rocket is prepared for blast off. They are set to launch via web and mobile July 1st and are expecting a good response from their solid media base.

After TSF Demo Day: Where They Were, Where They Are Now - 3
Curagami, previously Crowdfunde

The back story
Marty Smith (left) isn't your average Joe. He started as an M&M/Mars salesman, then operated and managed a company selling magnetic poetry kits online (if you didn't have these on your refrigerator as a child, you are deprived), and then ran the e-commerce sites for sex product company Adam & Eve and its nonprofit Sinclair Institute until 2009. Fast forward—Smith was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia around that time. This disease prompted him to found CureCancerStarter in 2013, a crowdfunding campaign site to help raise money for cancer research. Insights from that project led to Crowdfunde and a partnership with long-time co-worker Phil Buckley.

Our story here.

The pre-TSF plan
Smith's goals for the past three months were to create a successful beta test with high-end audio equipment e-tailer Moon Audio in Cary, and to launch a platform that used crowdfunding campaigns as content marketing tactics to drive traffic and sales to e-commerce companies.

How TSF helped
Crowdfunde changed its name to Curagami to reflect the many types of content (including crowd funding campaigns) its software would curate from across the web to help e-commerce companies more effectively market and sell to their customers.

What's next
Curagami will launch the software with two beta customers next week and plans to bring on 10 more customers after launch.

After TSF Demo Day: Where They Were, Where They Are Now - 4
CareLuLu

The back story
Patrick Matos is an environmental engineer hailing from France, who previously worked on a Washington D.C. startup that aimed to help individuals make their homes more energy efficient. He left to join his wife, Jen Usmanova, in founding CareLuLu.

The pre-TSF plan
Matos and Usmanova realized the difficulty in finding Washington D.C. daycare centers for their two children. They wanted to create a free service for parents where childcare locations could post their information, pictures, hours of operation, prices, allergy care and educational philosophies. CareLuLu had 400+ detailed listings and a good following in D.C. along with a directory with more than 200,000 basic national listings. It planned to target additional cities with its robust D.C. offering. Our original story is here.

How TSF helped
Local connections helped CareLuLu launch the platform with more than 100 daycare providers in the Raleigh-Durham area. The team spent time fine-tuning its marketing and customer on-boarding approach, and positioned itself for fast-growth post TSF and funding.

What's next
CareLuLu will continue expanding its reach in the Triangle this summer and then will grow to Los Angeles. The partners plan to expand to Philadelphia and Chicago this winter, and New York City and San Francisco sometime next year.

After TSF Demo Day: Where They Were, Where They Are Now - 5
Knomad

The back story
Alex Carter (left) and Michael Crouch have been friends since childhood and attend N.C. State together. Last year, Carter had a consulting job at Deloitte in Atlanta and Crouch graduated from the Berkeley School of Law. But they both had a different calling—making it easier to find the best and most personally relevant of 90,000 podcast shows around the Internet and to increase the percentage of people who listen to podcasts above the current rate of 5 percent. Carter quit his consulting job and Crouch decided not to pursue a career in law.

The pre-TSF plan
The two joined together to create a platform similar to Spotify but for spoken word, that allowed users to easily search for podcasts relevant to them, create playlists and share them with their friends. The pair hoped to test a prototype with 100 beta users. Here's our original story.

How TSF helped
Over the past three months, the men have catalogued over 700 shows and 110,000 episodes, and designed Knomad to be a personalized and social experience. They launched a private beta.

What's next
Knomad believes it will be the first social podcast app in the App Store later this summer, and will be available to users free to drive quick and viral adoption. Knomad also will expand the podcast index to over 3,000 shows and 500,000 episodes by year's end.

If you attended last night's event, what did you think? Which of these businesses is most compelling and why? And what about Demo Days? Should they live on? Comment below or email thoughts to laura@exitevent.com.

Laura Baverman contributed.